'Life on Mars' was an unexpected hit, the clever story of time-travelling policeman Sam Tyler who finds himself injected into an unreconstructed 1970s police force. 'Ashes to Ashes' is the sequel, although the plot is essentially separate: a different character is returned to a different period (in this case, the early 1980s); what's in common are the people who populate the former landscape, the team of detectives led by Gene Hunt. And at first, it feels like a poor substitute for its predecessor. There's a knowingness to its tone that is could be seen an acknowledgement that some of the freshness is gone; the new protagonist, played by Keely Hawes, is unsympathetic and irritating; and a lot of the early episodes appear to consist of little more than 80s pop music being played over footage of Hunt's Audi Quattro. Additionally, Hunt (played, as previously, by Philip Glenister) no longer seems quite so spectacularly outrageous; there's not the same intensity to his interaction with his new visitor as there was with his last. The series ends strongly, however: the idea of getting Geoffrey Palmer to play Lord Scarman is brilliant; but in spite of some strong moments and funny lines, one senses a formula that's starting to feel stretched. I still enjoyed the series; but I also had the sense that the basic idea has now been done, and might be better left to rest.